‘De-Glitchifying’ Your Site for the Holidays
Glitches: they’re the bane of modern digital commerce. True, they’ve grown smaller in recent years. They’re no longer the site-swallowing monsters that once had digital stakeholders waking in a cold sweat. Today’s glitches are smaller and more insidious, but they’re also greater in number, more mysterious in origin and tougher to pin down.
And they’re costing you big bucks.
Need a real-life example? An online retailer saw a sudden 15 percent drop in sales over the course of one week. Data analytics was puzzled. Website management couldn’t find anything wrong. The pricing team found no market trends or competitor offers that would affect sales so dramatically. Sales continued to drop. It wasn’t until an employee coincidentally tried to purchase a popular item from the site that she realized that the specific product, and some 20 others, had been incorrectly coded for checkout.
Over the course of the incident, the company lost an estimated $150,000 in sales. A drop in the bucket for a major online retailer, to be sure. But how many micro-glitches like these, whose tracks are buried in mountains of big data from multiple internal and external sources, are never identified? How much revenue leakage do glitches represent over time? You can find additional examples here.
This holiday season, take these three steps to "de-glitchify" your online presence:
- Listen closely to what people are saying on social media. Data from social media monitoring has too long been considered a vanity metric, but it can have real operational value if used correctly. Working in real time, correlate social media data with changes in product demand or revenue. For example, if a celebrity promotes your brand via social media, you need to quickly identify the actual business impact. That way, you can more effectively leverage the momentum in-store and online — e.g., adjust inventory to meet expected demand, tactically bundle products to grow basket size, etc.
- Track all data sources — in-store and online. Today’s most successful retailers have both online and physical presences to appeal to different shopping preferences. Yet too often the data from online and in-store activity is stored and analyzed in separate silos, leading to a disconnect. To get the bigger picture, and head off potential micro-glitches, you need to be able to see this data in aggregate and in real time. For example, if a store runs out of a popular product, you need to know if you can redirect customers to buy it online or shift stock locally to meet demand.
- Connect DevOps data with business key performance indicators (KPIs). Integrating and closely monitoring data from DevOps and IT is a key first step toward finding the root cause of any micro-glitch. However, without the context of your business KPIs, you only get half the story. Is the sudden drop in sales of product X the result of a server problem or coding error? Or is it because a celeb dissed it on social media? The answer is in the data, but that data must encompass the bigger business-technical picture that’s the key to effective e-commerce.
The Bottom Line
When preparing for the holiday shopping season, retailers need to be very aware that revenue leakage from micro-glitches adds up fast. In the data-rich digital commerce ecosystem, the key to effective de-glitchification is technological, not human. Seek out the solutions and workflows that enable you to identify and respond to micro-glitches in near real time. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us. Now is the time for all retailers to de-glitchify.
David Drai is the CEO and founder of Anodot, a real-time analytics and automated anomaly detection system that detects and turns outliers in time series data into valuable business insights.
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